AAF news: Johnny Manziel to join Memphis Express after Zach Mettenberger injury
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Johnny Manziel to join Memphis Express of AAF after Zach Mettenberger injury

Johnny Manziel, Express

The long and winding road for Johnny Manziel will now run through Memphis, Tennessee. Manziel will be immediately eligible to play in the Alliance of American Football after the Memphis Express claimed him off waivers on Saturday. Adam Schefter had the report, which was confirmed by Ben Kercheval of CBS Sports.

Memphis has needed help at quarterback all season. The Express started Christian Hackenberg in Week 1, but the Penn State product quickly showed he was not prepared for the AAF. Zach Mettenberger replaced him and created modest improvements, but not a total transformation of the offensive unit. On Saturday, however, Mettenberger got injured against the Salt Lake Stallions, setting off a chain of events:

Then this happened after Manziel signed an AAF player agreement:

Memphis was eligible to claim Manziel first in the waiver system:

Then came the news that Memphis had chosen to take Manziel, given its need for quarterback help:

The Express will be able to give Manziel several games of work, even if they are unable to make the playoffs. Manziel, who had briefly played in the Canadian Football League with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Montreal Alouettes in 2018, will be able to return to the American brand of football in an attempt to resurrect his stop-and-start-filled professional career.

How well Manziel will perform in Memphis is its own question on its own terms, but for many outside observers, another result of this story is that it might raise the profile of the AAF, which is trying to gain traction and build a national following in the first year of its existence. Many football fans and television executives are wondering if this late-winter, early-spring football league can become a regular part of the American sports calendar and win the public’s admiration.

Johnny Manziel will offer a test of the AAF’s ability to earn its place in the sports world.